Feeling constantly distracted?
Sensing phantom vibrations in the pocket where you keep your phone?
If given the choice between cutting off your hand or cutting off your data plan, would you need a few minutes to decide?
Are you constantly afraid of being left out, out of touch, or behind in the latest episodes of your favorite Netflix content?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, you have an increasingly common condition called the Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, as the kids call it these days.
FOMO can strike anyone, at any age, in any circumstance.
Scrolling on a screen while you’re supposed to be working, studying or otherwise paying attention? That’s FOMO.
Checking the Twitter every two minutes to catch up on the latest recruit, scores, or coaching hire? Yep. FOMO.
Scolding kids or students for spending too much time on their screens, whilst scrolling on a screen yourself? Some definite FOMO going on there.
Trust me; I speak from experience. I know the fear but I hadn’t met the acronymn until some kindly students I know pointed it out to me a few nights ago. I may not have been hip to the lingo but I’ve been fomo-ing for a while now.
Long enough to have realized the incredible irony of the whole disease: Fear of Missing Out actually causes us to miss out. When we’re consumed by the unimportant, we’re unconsumed by the important.
A hard-day’s work.
Laughing with our children, students, nieces, and nephews.
Holding hands with our spouses.
Actual, honest-to-God conversations with neighbors — with, like, words.
Real life is happening all around us. To update the wisdom of that famous truant, Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop scrolling and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
If we want to get a handle on our FOMO, we have to understand what fuels it. Usually, we’re afraid to miss out because we’ve wrapped our identities up with our activities. When I allow my streaming, scrolling and socializing to define me, then I have to keep on keeping up.
Good luck with that.
Tech makes it seem possible for me to keep up on all things at all times — or at least to be close. But here’s an important alert: it’s impossible. The sooner I accept that I can’t keep up, the sooner I can breathe free air again.
God offers a fearless identity, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And, by him we cry,“Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:14-15)
A child of God has an identity stronger than any social trend. He doesn’t love us because of how hip we are, how many followers we have, or how current we are on politics.
He loves us because He made us. And He “demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
That may not be the latest notification but it is by far the greatest. Don’t miss out on it.
— Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna.
Reach him at